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DEREK BENNETT.

Who was Derek Bennett?

Derek Bennet was a 29 year old father of four.

What happened?

In July 2001 Derek Bennett was shot and killed by police after they mistook a novelty lighter for a gun. The 29 year old father of four had been challenged by two armed Metropolitan Police officers after reports of a man being seen with a gun in the area of the Marston House flats in Crowhurst Close, Brixton, south London. 

 

Armed officers opened fire after he grabbed John Knightly, 53, and held the "weapon" to his head. Statements suggest that Mr Knightly wriggled free at which point Mr Bennett turned the novelty lighter on police and tried to take cover behind a pillar as they fired six shots and killed him.

 

Doctors recommended that the former psychiatric patient should be committed to a mental hospital under the Mental Health Act just a week earlier.

 

Some witness and medical accounts suggested that Mr Bennett had bullet entries from the back of his body which suggested that he was in fact running away from the officers when he was shot.

 

The two officers involved were granted anonymity during the inquest, and gave their evidence from behind protective screens. The police continue to refuse to name them.

What was the legal implication?

The Coroner, Selena Lynch directed the jury to return the lawful killing verdict after a five week hearing. 

 

The court heard the officers had believed Mr Bennett was armed with a silver handgun and had taken a hostage, but it was later discovered he was holding a novelty lighter.

 

The Met's Deputy Commissioner at the time,  Sir Ian Blair, called for protection for armed officers, who act in good faith, from serious criminal charges.

Further information.

If you want to find out more about  other victims of police and state violence in the UK, click here.

The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where mental health-related issues are a feature is nearly two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody.

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